Franklin Regional robotics team takes first place at Steel City Showdown competition
Franklin Regional students on the FRobotics team brought home a first-place finish in the Steel City Showdown robotics competition, held Aug. 3 at Carnegie Mellon University.
Hosted by the Steel City Robotics Alliance, the competition included 18 teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York.
Teams build robots to perform various tasks in a skills competition, and after the early rounds, they are grouped into “alliances” with other teams, working together to succeed.
“During the qualification rounds, the team held a winning record of 6-1-1, and ended as the fourth ranked team of twenty-two,” team President Courtney Sheridan said.
Allied with teams from Hampton Township and Penfield, N.Y., the FRobotics students made it into the finals.
“We won the best-of-three finals decisively,” Sheridan said.
The win comes during a banner year for the team, as they not only were crowned champions at the WOW Robotics Alliance Championship, held in May in Ohio, but also qualified to compete at the 2019 FIRST World Championship in Detroit.
Similar to the world championships, the team’s robot — named Curiosity — was required to perform a number of simple tasks. To prepare for the Steel City Showdown, the team added a climbing mechanism and reduced the maximum height of Curiosity’s elevator, which is used to deposit items it collects during competition.
Sophomore Kalinda Wagner reprogrammed the elevator and senior Tina Henninger controlled its movement along with the climbing mechanism, while fellow senior C.J. Ciecierski maneuvered Curiosity around the arena.
During the competition, team scout and senior Daniel Kline was keeping an eye on what other teams were doing.
“Uniquely at this competition, all the teams had a chance to change their robot or their strategy (from previous competitions),” Kline said. “So I needed to look at how they changed their performance. I also looked at who we would want to most work with, since we were in a position to pick our allies.”
For the team’s marketing co-lead, sophomore Kathleen Sheridan, even being a spectator is exciting.
“We’ve been winning over and over again,” she said.
More important than winning, though, is reaching out the next generation of potential robotics students. Curiosity has one competition left before “retirement” — an October event in Columbus, Ohio — but the robot will become an ambassador for the team and the science, technology, engineering and math concepts that power it.
FRobotics members hosted several outreach events in July, including a program for children at the Murrysville Community Library.
“I think it’s really cool to expose kids to that and to be able to say, ‘This is the real-deal stuff you can do in the world,’” Courtney Sheridan said. “Kids really loved it.”
For more on the team, see Team4150.wordpress.com.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .